- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2002

Chapter Two of the Patrick Ramsey saga didn't have quite the same romance as Chapter One. But that's how it is with rookie quarterbacks. One week they look like Johnny U., and the next week they look like Johnny P.U.
Ramsey had one of those Learning Experiences yesterday at FedEx Field. The Saints pounded him with their pass rush and confused him with their coverages, and the result was four picks, an early 20-0 deficit and, ultimately, a 43-27 loss. The Redskins closed to within five points late in the first half on Ifeanyi Ohalete's 78-yard interception return for a score, but who were they kiddin'? They weren't going to beat a playoff-caliber team with a virtual novice at QB.
The best thing about this game, from the Redskins' point of view, is that Ramsey lived to play another day. He was sacked seven times, slapped around countless others and probably could have used some smelling salts in the late going, when New Orleans stormed him on almost every down. But he kept getting up, kept firing the ball downfield, and showed the same pluck in defeat that he had in the win at Tennessee the week before.
"He was under enormous pressure all day," backup Shane Matthews said, "and he avoided it as much as he could. He hung in there, tried to get it downfield and took some shots. He impressed me a lot."
Translation: Sure glad it wasn't me in there.
A lot of Ramsey's problems, of course, he brought on himself. By throwing three interceptions in the first quarter and helping to dig a 20-0 hole for his team, he pretty much took Stephen Davis out of the equation. And without the run to worry about, the Saints were able to devote themselves, almost exclusively, to beating the tar out of the rookie QB.
There were times when the Redskins' pass pocket seemed more like a dark alley that Ramsey had stumbled into. New Orleans defensive end Darren Howard had his way with any number of Washington blockers, including the usually steadfast Chris Samuels, and the Saints got so much pressure with just three rushers that their linebackers and safeties were able to stay back and play the pass.
"I told the defense we will get some chances for turnovers," coach Jim Haslett said, "and we have to [take advantage of] them. We thought [Ramsey] had so much confidence in his arm that he would throw into coverage and take his shots, and our guys would have opportunities to catch them, and they did."
Six of them, to be exact. But two were wiped out by penalties otherwise Ramsey would have tied the club record for interceptions in a game (last "achieved" by Jay Schroeder against the Giants in '86).
It's easy to see, though, why Ramsey is quickly earning respect in the locker room. After last week's victory he gave the credit to everybody but himself, and yesterday he took total responsibility for four of the Redskins' five turnovers. "You can throw blame around all you want," he said, "but ultimately, I threw the ball, and I've just got to learn to do it more efficiently."
Once he got his cleats sunk in the ground, Ramsey passed more than passably. In between sacks, he had 21 completions for 320 yards and a touchdown. But two of those completions, screens behind the line, went for gains of 62 (to Kenny Watson) and 40 (to Ladell Betts) yards. His longest pass to a wideout was a modest 23-yarder to Rod Gardner.
"He played like a rookie quarterback, I guess," said coach Steve Spurrier. "The first two [interceptions] he threw right to the guy. Obviously, we didn't have the right pass [called] for that defense. I told him, 'Pat, when you get hung up now, you've got to throw it away or run it up there and fall on it.' He's just got to play and learn and hopefully try to correct these mistakes."
It could have been a disaster of a day for Ramsey, one that left not just bruises but lasting scars. After all, plenty of coaches might have pulled him after he got off to such a rocky start. And Spurrier, whose patience has never been compared to Job's, had already replaced his starting quarterback in two of the Redskins' games.
Yesterday, however, he went the distance with Ramsey and gave him a chance to play through his jitters and misjudgments. That can only boost the rookie's confidence. Besides, there's no reason Patrick should be the fall guy for this latest Redskins catastrophe. Not when the special teams gave up two touchdowns and the defense allowed two more plus a 58-yard gain on third-and-long.
Afterward, Spurrier sounded like he was ready to revoke everybody's scholarship. He used words like "pitiful" and "poorly coached" and "butt kicked," and mentioned more than once the need to "make some changes." Clearly, though, he's married to Ramsey for a while for better or for worse. In the Tennessee game we saw the "better." In the New Orleans game we saw the other end of the spectrum.


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